Peer Approval of E-Cigarettes Could Increase Use Among Calif. Teens
Positive "social perceptions" of electronic cigarette use could lead to an increase in the use of other tobacco products among California teenagers, according to a study published in Pediatrics on Monday, the Los Angeles Times' "Science Now" reports.
Details of Study
For the study, researchers from the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine reviewed survey data from the Southern California Children's Health Study. The study analyzed responses from 2,084 11th- and 12th-grade students between January 2014 and June 2014.
Participants were asked several questions, including whether:
- They or their friends used e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes; and
- Their peers approved or disapproved of smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping; and
- They believed e-cigarette and traditional cigarette use is bad for their health.
Overall, 24% of respondents said they have used e-cigarettes before. Of those, 9.6% said they had used such a device in the last 30 days.
Fewer respondents -- 18.7% -- said they had ever smoked a traditional cigarette. Just 3.2% of respondents said they had smoked both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes in the last month.
According to the study, e-cigarette users were likely to report that their friends approved of vaping or that they lived with someone who used the products.
The majority of respondents said that they thought cigarettes and e-cigarettes were bad for their health. However, nearly 50% of those who had used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days said they were not harmful (Brown, Los Angeles Times, 7/27).
Jessica Barrington-Trimis, lead author of the study and a professor in USC's Department of Preventive Medicine, said the "data suggest that e-cigarettes may be recruiting new tobacco product users who might not have used cigarettes."
She added that the findings support "concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of [tobacco] users."
As such, Barrington-Trimis recommended that parents limit their children's access to e-cigarettes, as well as talk about whether their kids' friends are using the products. She noted that parents also should discuss "the fact that the hazards of e-cigarettes ... are not well known" (Haelle, Forbes, 7/27).
The researchers also called for additional studies on the overall health effects of e-cigarettes ("Science Now," Los Angeles Times, 7/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.